Missed opportunities will hurt a team in the best of times, in the league finals with a short series it can be a worst case scenario.
The Red Deer Razorbacks missed a golden opportunity in Game 1 of the best-of-three Parkland Baseball League final, blowing a three-run lead with four outs to go to lose 6-4 to the Acme Pirates at Great Chief Park.
“For us it comes down to one inning which was a bad combination of walks, two errors and one timely hit,” said Razorbacks head coach Darcy Warawa. “When you combine those things against a first place team like Acme, they’ll take advantage of it.”
Up 3-0 in the top of the sixth, the wheels fell off completely.
Razorbacks starting pitcher Chris Grudeski finally ran out of steam and was chased with two runners on base.
Diego Colorado replaced him and an error and a single later and those two runners scored.
Travis Leinweber then stepped up and crushed a three-run home run over the right field fence to give the Pirates a 5-3 lead.
Acme added one more run in the top of the seventh while Red Deer got one back in the bottom half, but that’s as close as they got.
One bright point for the Razorbacks to build on is the way they responded after the big sixth inning for Acme.
In the bottom of the sixth, the first two batters singled and both were moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt. But a hard liner right at the short stop and a pop up ended the threat.
In the bottom of the seventh, they loaded the bases with one, and Colorado walked to score a run, but a shallow pop up and a ground ball by the next two hitters ended the rally.
“It’s definitely a good sign for the team, that you don’t just roll through the sixth and seventh innings, have no momentum and the game ends a 6-3 ball game,” said Warawa. “With the way the game ended, we just weren’t patient enough at the plate.”
They also had a solid outing by Grudeski who lasted into the sixth inning and was only responsible for two earned runs.
“He had an absolutely great outing,” said Warawa. “He did a great job tonight of hitting spots … we didn’t pick him up and we didn’t get him out of that situation.”
Game 2 goes tonight in Acme at 7 p.m. with Game 3 if needed on Thursday in Acme.
The Razorbacks have their work cut out for them to get to that final game.
“When you’re down 1-0 in a short series against a good team, you have to lay out in the next game,” said Warawa. “We have to go out and win that game with everything we possibly can and if that means throwing everything we got at them, well then we’ll figure out Thursday’s game after that.”